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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 February 2021

Movement for Scottish independence gathers pace

Survey shows 47% of Scots in favour of leaving UK while move towards united Ireland gains support

Scottish National Party leader and Nicola Sturgeon sets out the case for a second referendum on Scottish independence last month as polls show growing support for a vote. AFP
Scottish National Party leader and Nicola Sturgeon sets out the case for a second referendum on Scottish independence last month as polls show growing support for a vote. AFP

The damage caused by Brexit and the pandemic to Britain’s unity is highlighted by a poll that shows growing support for Scotland and Northern Ireland to break away from the UK.

The Scottish National Party has suggested going ahead with a “wildcat” independence referendum.

The polling in the four-country survey also shows that the sense of British identity is disintegrating.

It appears that Brexit and the UK government’s poor handling of the pandemic are driving Scotland from Westminster rule.

The survey revealed 53 per cent of Scots would vote to rejoin the EU, with 31 per cent against.

By contrast, in England voters opposed a return to the bloc by a margin of 42 per cent to 40 per cent.

But separate polling shows the SNP is on course for a landslide win in elections in the devolved Scottish Parliament in May.

That could lead to party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon going ahead with a referendum regardless of Westminster’s authority.

A debate is under way as to whether such a referendum would be legal.

British law states that Scotland can only call a referendum if allowed by the Westminster Parliament.

Downing Street has insisted that the question of Scottish independence was resolved in the 2014 referendum in which 55 per cent voted in favour of maintaining the 300-year-old union.

"Now more than ever, we should be pulling together to strengthen our United Kingdom, instead of trying to separate it,” the British government said.

The survey found that people in the UK expect Scotland to leave the union within 10 years – and 47 per cent of Scots are in favour of independence, with 44 per cent against.

Meanwhile, the survey on Northern Ireland showed that most wanted a referendum on a union with the Republic of Ireland within the next five years, by 51 per cent to 44 per cent.

The number of people in favour of a united Ireland has increased to 42 per cent, with most under 45s in the province wanting unification.

YouGov, which conducted surveys in Wales and England, found that support for Welsh independence has grown to 23 per cent, a significant increase of more than five percentage points from five years ago.

The survey in Scotland was conducted by Panelbase, while LucidTalk undertook the poll in Northern Ireland.

Updated: January 24, 2021 11:30 PM

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